Australian Game Industry Generates $4 Billion In 2018

A new report from Australia’s Interactive Games & Entertainment Association shows that that Australian game industry is growing. The organisation announced today that consumer spending on video games reached $4.029 billion in 2018; that’s up by 25 percent over 2017’s spending.

By comparison, the United States video game industry generated $43.4 billion in 2018.

Digital sales stood at $2.851 billion with physical retail sales amounting to $1.179 billion. Digital sales specifically jumped by a very healthy 39 percent, which is reflective of the industry’s overall trending toward digital games. Physical retail sales jumped by only 0.2 percent. This is all further evidence that digital sales are taking up more and more of the pie.

Here are some further insights from the IGEA’s report:

  • In-game digital purchases jumped by 190 percent year-over-year.
  • Digital full game sales rose 71 percent year-over-year.
  • Mobile gaming remains huge, with 11 percent year-over-year growth in revenue.
  • Console accessory sales jumped 18.7 percent and helped improve overall retail sales.
  • Of the $2.851 billion in digital sales, in-game microtransactions, season passes, and expansions–this category jumped by 190 percent year-over-year.
    • Fortnite’s massive success contributed to this uptick in revenue.
  • Full-game digital sales revenue rose by 71 percent year-over-year.
  • Subscription revenue rose by 31 percent compared to last year.

“The excitement for video games is continuing to grow, with phenomenal consumer sales in 2018,” IGEA CEO Ron Curry said in a statement. “Australia continues to experience video games sales growth, in line with trends similarly experienced by other countries, including the USA and the UK.”

Curry went on to say that he hopes the Federal Government will recognise that the Australian gaming industry is an “integral part of the overall screen industry, thereby allowing the sector to access screen support programs available such as refundable tax offsets.

No Caption Provided

Curry added: “It is imperative that these innovative and creative Australian-based tech companies can compete on a level playing field globally with many other jurisdictions offering support. Australian games developers should be able to take advantage, culturally and economically, of the global growth of this wildly popular entertainment medium.”

The video game industry’s next major worldwide event is E3 2019 in June. We are expecting a lot of big news from the show, so keep checking back with GameSpot soon for lots more.

Aladdin Review: Disney’s New Live-Action Movie Is Much Better Than Its Trailers

It can be debated whether live-action–or CGI/live-action hybrid–adaptations of Disney’s animated classics are needed. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and the rest of the studio’s library of iconic cartoon films typically stand the test of time. They’re inevitable at this point, though, thanks to the money they earn at the box office. Given that, though, they should at least be good, right? That’s the mindset I had before screening the studio’s latest adaptation, Aladdin, fully expecting to hate it.

The trailers for Aladdin have not been kind, making it look like a pale imitation of a nearly 30-year-old film. Thankfully, though, the picture they paint isn’t accurate. Aladdin is, by and large, a good movie. If you love the original, it does more than enough to tickle your nostalgia bone, while adding more depth to the characters and giving some of them a bit of a modern spin.

All of your favorite songs are there, a lot of the jokes remain, and the cast does more than their fair share of singing and dancing, along with acting. What’s more, Director Guy Ritchie (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) has recreated several visuals from the animated film in a way that makes them even more breathtaking in live-action. The Cave of Wonders, as seen in the trailers, is incredibly designed, as is the kingdom of Agrabah.

Of course, the biggest worry from the trailers was Genie, who was originally voiced by Robin Williams in the animated film. Will Smith plays the character in the live-action Aladdin, and what was shown of him in the trailers wasn’t great. The CGI was hit-and-miss, and he didn’t seem to spend much time in the character’s signature blue form. It just didn’t seem right.

However, you’ll be happy to know that Smith’s take on the character works. He’s not trying to capture the essence of Robin Williams in playing Genie, but instead relies on his comedic sensibilities–something we don’t see nearly enough from the former Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He also delivers big on song numbers “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.” And if you’re worried about it, Genie also spends a lot of the movie with blue skin.

The only real knock against Smith is how much bigger his character is than anyone else in the film–physically and charismatically. Then again, that’s the same problem the Aladdin animated film had with Williams’ take, so it’s not a bad problem to have.

Still, the cast of Aladdin is mostly well-suited for their roles. Mena Massoud is easy to love as the homeless thief Aladdin, and the friendships he forges with Genie and the magic carpet–as well as his relationship with pet monkey Abu–are fun to see develop. Naomi Scott, meanwhile, elevates the role of Jasmine beyond standard Disney princess fare–and the chemistry Scott and Massoud share makes the love story between Aladdin and Jasmine work well.

Jasmine’s story features the most important changes to the Aladdin story. In this adaptation, she has a sense of ambition and wants to follow in her father’s footsteps to lead her people and become the next Sultan of Agrabah, even if tradition doesn’t allow it.

When it comes to Disney remaking its movies, it’s these changes that make the new adaptations a useful tool. While 1992’s animated Aladdin featured a Jasmine who was eager to reject the idea of an arranged marriage to find a new sultan, the new film exploring the princess’s own ambition to lead her people is a wonderful change to make.

The new movie also gives her a female confidante in handmaiden Dalia, played hilariously by Saturday Night Live’s Nasim Pedrad. It’s a small addition, but an important one given that in the animated film Jasmine’s only real friend before Aladdin was a tiger. Pedrad brings a good dose of humor to the film and has great chemistry with Smith’s Genie.

The rest of the cast is good enough for the roles they were cast to play. Marwan Kenzari is plenty nefarious as Jafar, though not nearly as charismatic as his animated counterpart. Navid Negahban’s Sultan doesn’t have much to do in the movie–much like the cartoon–but the bond he shares with Jasmine is a powerful one.

As good as a lot of this movie is, Aladdin is not without its faults. Everything leading up to the Genie’s arrival–save for Massoud’s performance of “One Jump Ahead” as he and Jasmine flee from guards in the marketplace–is pretty slow. Meanwhile, the climax of the film is a CGI-heavy affair that borders on Michael Bay levels of visual gibberish. It’s not bad CGI, so much as there’s so much happening at once that it’s hard to distinguish any one thing.

There are also a couple of moments throughout the movie that carry the sort of visual tricks Guy Ritchie likes to use in his movies. Keep an eye on how the film is sped up at various points in the “One Jump Ahead” sequence. These sort of things worked for me, though I could see how they’d stick out like a sore thumb for others.

There’s also a musical problem. Speechless, a new Jasmine song written by duo Pasek and Paul and sung by Scott, fits the movie’s take on the character. What’s more, it’s a good song. The way it’s utilized in the film, though, feels incredibly out of place. This section of the movie could easily be clipped out and used as a music video, and the film would be better for it.

That all said, Aladdin is good. It’s not perfect, but it’s a big, extravagant musical that’s filled with fun performances, bright colors, and some exciting moments. Will Smith’s turn as Genie isn’t better than what Robin Williams brought to the character, but it’s different enough that it stands on its own merit. And, if you’re into this sort of thing–and you should be–Smith has a new rap over the end credits that is themed to the movie.

Game Of Thrones Boss Leaves To Work On Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings Show

Amazon has made a huge hire for its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV show. Bryan Cogman, who worked on HBO’s Game of Thrones since the beginning and wrote 11 episodes of the fantasy drama, is joining Amazon to contribute to its ambitious Lord of the Rings TV series.

George R.R. Martin confirmed this on his blog, writing that Cogman will contribute to the Lord of the Rings show at Amazon in addition to developing his own series. Variety reports that Cogman will do some consulting work for the Lord of the Rings show, though his exact title is unclear.

Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff hired Cogman as their assistant at the start of the show’s production a decade ago. Weiss and Benioff had no experience writing for TV before Game of Thrones, so they turned to Cogman. Benioff knew him as his nanny’s husband.

Cogman eventually became the co-executive producer for the entire Game of Thrones series. The 11 episodes he wrote for Game of Thrones is only eclipsed by Weiss and Benioff. He was instrumental to Game of Thrones, according to cast members and Martin himself.

Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark, told Vanity Fair that Cogman was the backbone of Game of Thrones, while Jaime Lannister actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau said Cogman is a “walking encyclopedia” of knowledge about Game of Thrones. Martin himself said Cogman was “the third head of the dragon” as it relates to his relationship with Weiss and Benioff.

You should really read this Vanity Fair story to find out just how important Cogman was to the creation, development, and success of Game of Thrones.

Cogman had a pitch for a new Game of Thrones prequel show for HBO, but the network reportedly decided to pass on it, which might have contributed to his decision to leave to join Amazon.

At Amazon, Cogman will work alongside the Lord of the Rings TV show’s creators, JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who–like Weiss and Benioff before them–have no experience writing a TV show.

The Lord of the Rings show doesn’t currently have a title or release date, and no casting has been announced as yet. We do know that it’s set in the Second Age, long before the events of The Lord of the Rings.

April’s Best-Selling Consoles And Games Revealed (US)

The NPD has released its report for April 2019, revealing the best-selling consoles and games of the month in the US , and providing an overall snapshot of the industry’s health during the month.

Starting with game sales, Mortal Kombat 11 was April’s best-selling game of the month, and immediately became the No. 2 best-selling game of 2019 so far, only behind Kingdom Hearts III. Also of note is that Mortal Kombat 11 is the first time a third-party game was the Switch’s top-seller for a month since Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was No. 1 back in September 2017.

Days Gone was No. 2 in April, and it achieved sales that amounted to the seventh biggest ever for a Sony-published game during its launch month. It is also developer Sony Bend Studio’s best-selling game ever after just one month on sale in the US. MLB The Show 19 finished No. 3 in April, and it continues to be the best-selling sports game of 2019 so far (a lot of the big ones are still to come such as FIFA 20, Madden 20, NBA 2K20, and more).

Overall, video game sales across console, PC, and portable reached $427 million in April 2019, which is up 15 percent year-over-year. On a year-to-date basis, game sales have now reached $1.9 billion, which is up 4 percent.

Moving to hardware, the Nintendo Switch was April 2019’s best-selling console in terms of units sold and dollars driven, outperforming the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The 32GB neon red/blue system is 2019’s best-selling individual piece of hardware.

The strong performance of the Nintendo Switch was not matched by all platforms, as total hardware spending dropped 29 percent to $160 million in April 2019. All other platforms posted declines during the month. For 2019 year-to-date, hardware spending is down 16 percent to $918 million.

The Accessories category, which includes game cards, jumped 5 percent to $256 million. The Amiibo Super Smash Bros Series 1 packs sold the best in April, while the black DualShock 4 controller is 2019’s best-selling accessory so far. Game card and controller spending led the way. Year-to-date, Accessories spending is up 3 percent to $1.2 billion.

With hardware, software, and accessories combined, total video game spending in the US in April reached $842 million, which is up 1 percent. For 2019 so far, total spending dropped 2 percent to $4 billion.

April 2019 Best-Selling Games In The US All Platforms

  1. Mortal Kombat 11
  2. Days Gone
  3. MLB 19 The Show
  4. The Division 2^
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice^
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  9. NBA 2K19
  10. Yoshi’s Crafted World*
  11. Red Dead Redemption II
  12. Mario Kart 8*
  13. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  14. Minecraft#
  15. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  16. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
  17. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  18. Jump Force
  19. Battlefield V*
  20. Borderlands

* Digital sales not included

^ PC digital sales not included

# Minecraft digital sales on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One included

The Best Memorial Day Game Deals For Switch, PS4, Xbox One, And PC

Somehow, Memorial Day (May 27) is nearly here, marking a day of remembrance for those who died serving in the US military, as well as the unofficial beginning of summer. Hopefully, you have a three-day weekend ahead of you and some extra time to relax, but even if this weekend is the same as any other, you can still get in on all the Memorial Day deals retailers are offering this week. We’re rounding up the best Memorial Day gaming deals, including PS4, Switch, and Xbox One games, so you can save yourself some cash and secure some great games for your collection this holiday weekend.

We’ll continue to update this story as we find more notable deals, but you can check out the best games, consoles, and accessories currently on sale below.

Nier: Automata - Game of the Yorha Edition - available for $28
Nier: Automata – Game of the Yorha Edition – available for $28

Amazon

While Amazon hasn’t posted a Memorial Day-specific sale, the digital store is currently offering some of the best game discounts available online. You’ll be able to find many recent titles, first-party Nintendo games, and more marked down right now. Both Pokemon: Let’s Go games are discounted at $45; Monster Hunter World is only $18; Devil May Cry 5 is selling for $40; and Kingdom Hearts 3 is on sale for $30, to name just a few available deals.

See more of the best game deals at Amazon below.

Nintendo Switch

  • Dead Cells — $26.97
  • Disgaea 1 Complete — $38.73
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — $49.94
  • FIFA 19 — $38.95
  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition — $49.75
  • Just Dance 2019 — $20
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — $49.94
  • The Lego Movie 2 Videogame — $20
  • Mortal Kombat 11 — $49.79
  • NBA 2K19 — $20
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe — $45
  • Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee — $45
  • Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu — $45
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — $49.94
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — $44.65
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 — $49.65
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World — $49.94

PS4

  • Anthem: Legion of Dawn Edition — $30
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — $25
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — $15
  • Devil May Cry 5 — $40
  • Fallout 76 — $25
  • Far Cry New Dawn — $20
  • God of War — $29.58
  • Grand Theft Auto V — $15
  • Just Cause 4: Day One Edition — $29.90
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 — $30
  • The Lego Movie 2 Videogame — $20
  • Metro Exodus: Day One Edition — $39
  • Monster Hunter World — $18.15
  • NBA 2K19 — $20
  • Nier: Automata – Game of the Yorha Edition — $28
  • Quantic Dream Collection — $30
  • Resident Evil 2 — $38.49
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — $49.88
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy — $27.95
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 — $45
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands — $27.48

Xbox One

  • Anthem: Legion of Dawn Edition — $30
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — $15
  • Devil May Cry 5 — $40
  • Fallout 76 — $25
  • Forza Horizon 4 — $45
  • Grand Theft Auto V — $15
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection — $26.20
  • Just Cause 4: Day One Edition — $30
  • Kingdom Hearts III — $30
  • The Lego Movie 2 Videogame — $20
  • Metro Exodus: Day One Edition — $38.73
  • Monster Hunter World — $18
  • Mortal Kombat 11 — $49.79
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 — $35
  • Resident Evil 2 — $38.95
  • Sea of Thieves — $37
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — $45
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy — $27.60
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 — $45
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands — $24.45
Nintendo Switch - available for $243.95
Nintendo Switch – available for $243.95

Google Express

Google Express is a delivery service from Google that lets you order from a variety of online stores–no premium membership required. All you have to do is add items to your Google Express cart and choose your delivery day. Your order will arrive within a few days, and shipping is free if you hit the purchase minimum (usually between $25 and $35).

One of the best deals is the Nintendo Switch, which you can get on sale for just $243.95. The console rarely strays from its $300 price point, but it’s already discounted to $287, and by using promo code MEMORIAL15, you’ll drop the price by an additional 15%, a full $55 savings. All you have to do is add it to your cart and enter the code during checkout to see the full discount.

Another can’t-miss deal is this Xbox One S bundle with Minecraft (plus the Starter and Creator packs and 1,000 Minecoins) for only $180. Add it to your cart and choose the Memorial Day promo code; you’ll see $120 slashed off the price. And if you’re into drones (or have always wanted to try one out), we have to point out this pocket-sized rechargeable drone, which normally sells for $150 but is on sale for $99 with the same Memorial Day promo code applied at checkout. Please note estimated taxes based on your location may affect the total price.

There are plenty of other non-gaming-related Memorial Day deals–you can check them out at Google Express. The below three deals expire Sunday, May 23, but we wouldn’t advise waiting, as some offers are already beginning to sell out.

  • Nintendo Switch — $243.95
  • Xbox One Minecraft Creators Bundle — $180
  • ZeroTech Dobby Mini Pocket Drone — $99
Tom Clancy's The Division 2 - available for $37
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 – available for $37

Ebay

Ebay is going hard for Memorial Day this year, with discounts across not only gaming but smart home devices, outdoor essentials, kitchen accessories, and more. There are some great game and console deals here, and everything we’ve linked below is brand new–or in the case of the New Nintendo 2DS XL, refurbished by Nintendo. Plus, check out the full offering of gaming deals at Ebay.

Games

  • Days Gone — $46 (PS4)
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Switch Pro Controller — $100
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man — $28 (PS4)
  • Mortal Kombat 11 — $44
  • Overcooked 2 — $28 (Switch)
  • Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee — $38 (Switch)
  • Super Mario Party + Mario Tennis Aces — $90 (Switch)
  • Super Mario Party + Super Mario Odyssey — $90 (Switch)
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate + Smash Bros. Pro Controller — $121 (Switch)
  • Titanfall 2 + Sunset Overdrive — $8 (Xbox One)
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 — $37 (PS4)

Consoles & accessories

  • New Nintendo 2DS XL (refurbished by Nintendo) — $100
  • Nintendo Switch + Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu — $315
  • PlayStation 4 Pro console (new) — $376.96
  • PlayStation VR bundle with Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Moss — $205
  • Turtle Beach Stealth 700P Gaming Headset for PS4 — $119.95
  • Xbox Live Gold 12-Month Membership — $45
Nintendo 64 console bundle with Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 64 - available for $150
Nintendo 64 console bundle with Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 64 – available for $150

GameStop

GameStop’s big Memorial Day sale just kicked off on May 19 and runs through Monday, May 27. There’s a small selection of Switch deals available, including Disgaea 1 Complete for $38.97 and Mega Man 11 for $25. Select pre-owned games are up to 50% off, and you can also get refurbished console bundles on sale, including this Xbox One bundle with Wolfenstein: The New Order, Fallout 4, Just Cause 4, and Forza Horizon 3 for $180. Select toys are 20% off, specifically Bendy and the Ink Machine, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Roblox toys. You can also save on some Nintendo Switch accessories.

See more of the best Memorial Day deals at GameStop below.

Games

  • Anthem: Legion of Dawn Edition — $30 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Ark Survival Evolved — $30 (Switch)
  • Bioshock: The Collection — $20 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — $15 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Disgaea 1 Complete — $38.97 (Switch)
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 — $30 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Mega Man 11 — $25 (Switch)
  • NBA 2K19 20th Anniversary Edition — $30 (Switch)
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition — $40 (Switch)

Consoles

  • Xbox One Essentials Blast From the Past bundle — $180
    • comes with Xbox One 500GB console, controller, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Fallout 4, Just Cause 4, and Forza Horizon 3
  • PlayStation 4 Essential Blast From the Past bundle — $300
    • comes with PS4 500GB console, controller, God of War, The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4, and Ratchet and Clank
  • PlayStation 2 Mature Hits Blast From the Past bundle — $100
    • comes with PS2 Slim console, controller, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, God of War, Resident Evil 4, and Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening
  • Nintendo 64 Multiplayer Blast From the Past bundle — $150
    • comes with N64 console, controller, Super Smash Bros., and Mario Kart 64
  • Nintendo GameCube Blash From the Past bundle — $145
    • comes with silver GameCube console, two controllers, and Super Smash Bros. Melee
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - available for $25 (Walmart exclusive: includes 2 hours of 2XP)
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – available for $25 (Walmart exclusive: includes 2 hours of 2XP)

Walmart

As part of Walmart’s Memorial Day sale, the store is offering Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at one of the lowest prices we’ve seen it: $25. That includes a Walmart-exclusive offer of two hours of double XP gameplay. The standard edition for Rage 2, which just released May 14, is selling for $10 off on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. And if there’s any random gaming accessory you’ve been needing, Walmart’s a good place to look, as the store has an assortment of useful accessories, like this portable charger for the Nintendo Switch (on sale for $25).

See more of the best Memorial Day gaming deals at Walmart below.

Games

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 — $25 (PS4, Switch)
  • Crackdown 3 — $34.58 (Xbox One)
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age — $30 (PS4)
  • Far Cry New Dawn — $19.88 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Final Fantasy XV – Royal Edition — $19.93 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Rage 2 — $49.94 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider — $25 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth — $30 (PC)

Gaming accessories

  • CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra Gaming Computer — $490
  • NES Classic Controller with Long Extension Cord — $10.76
  • Nintendo Switch Joy-Con High-Speed Charging Dock — $13
  • Nintendo Switch Portable Power Bank Battery Charger — $25
  • TSV Vertical Stand with Controller Charging Station, Cooling Fan for PS4 Pro — $20.97
  • Wired Gaming Headset for PS4, Xbox One, and PC — $28
  • Wireless Pro Gaming Controllers for Nintendo Switch (2-Pack) — $40.97
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller, Phantom Black Special Edition — $58.89
  • X Rocker Wireless Gaming Chair Rocker — $89

Game Of Thrones Season 8 Makes A Lot More Sense If Bran Is Evil

The finale episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 is here, and at last, the question of who will sit the Iron Throne has been answered. Fans, viewers, and Las Vegas have speculated about which character would ultimately rule since the show’s beginning, with all kinds of callbacks and Easter eggs providing clues along the way. Plenty of characters have tried to manipulate their way to power over the years, only to ultimately fail (and die, often horribly).

So the fact that Bran Stark wound up the ruler of Westeros is somewhat confusing. He’s an entirely unassuming choice, having seemingly done very little since he became the new Three-Eyed Raven way back in Season 6. Though Bran has the ability to warg into animals (and sometimes people) and to know about seemingly anything that’s happening anywhere, he seems to rarely use these powers, and hasn’t been very involved in the goings-on of Westeros. He outed Littlefinger in Season 7, provided some information about dealing with the Night King, and helped Jon learn about his true identity, but that’s about it. Bran came off as a good choice for the ruler of Westeros because it’s seemingly not a job he wants (“I don’t really ‘want’ anymore,” he said earlier in Season 8), because he’s supposedly wise, and because he’s distant and therefore can be objective and just.

But some viewers are questioning the choice of Bran in the end, because it doesn’t make a ton of sense. For someone who knows seemingly everything, Bran hasn’t spent much time this season helping anyone. He did little during Season 7, he did nothing during the Battle of Winterfell, and what information he has provided hasn’t been all that useful. What makes him such a good choice for king, other than the fact that he’s a great compromise to keep the power away from everyone else?

The fact that Bran hasn’t had much going on since Season 6 has bothered a lot of viewers, and now to have him wind up on the throne seemingly by default is even less satisfying. Bran does say one thing that suggests he knows more than he’s letting on, though. During the council to choose the new king, when Tyrion asks Bran if he’s up for the job, Bran responds, “Why do you think I came all this way?” Once again, Bran suggests he knew something would happen before it did, so why isn’t he using that information more effectively?

No Caption Provided

If you think about it, Bran’s actions–and more aptly, his inaction–have constantly and subtly pushed in the direction of him becoming king. Season 8 makes a lot more sense if you consider that Bran might have been manipulating events for his own benefit all along. After all, he could have saved a lot more lives along the way, if that had been his goal. But what if it wasn’t?

Bran the Deceiver

Consider Bran’s actions during the Battle of Winterfell. Though he can warg into animals and get a bird’s eye view of the battle, which could then allow him to pass useful intelligence to the fighters defending the castle, Bran does nothing. He just sits in the godswood, quietly using himself as bait for the Night King. If he could have helped, why didn’t he? Maybe because Bran foresaw several key deaths that would help bolster his position.

The Battle of Winterfell saw so many of Daenerys’s forces eliminated that she was suddenly on even ground with the Lannisters. She also lost Jorah Mormont, her most trusted adviser and most capable protector. Other key deaths during the battle included a popular and capable leader in Lyanna Mormont, who was known to sway public opinion with gripping speeches, and Theon Greyjoy, who had a history with Sansa Stark that could divide her loyalties. Key people who might have changed the rest of the events of Season 8 were lost during the battle.

Bran also helps provide Jon with the information about his true parentage, even though that does nothing but complicate an already strained wartime situation. It’s Bran who convinces Samwell Tarly to tell Jon the truth about who his parents were, which instantly puts Jon into conflict with Dany even though he’s already pledged her his loyalty, bent the knee, and given up being King in the North for her. Jon has a better claim to the Iron Throne than Dany, but it’s obvious he doesn’t want to rule. Why tell Jon about his parents at all, or at least, why tell him right before he fights a battle that could mean the destruction of all of Westeros? It seems like a bad move that doesn’t help anyone, unless you consider that Bran wants to sow discord and push Daenerys over the edge.

Losing Ser Jorah leaves Daenerys without her best bodyguard and without the man who had often acted as the voice of reason against her worst impulses, right when Dany is within sight of her goal, and right when the biggest threat to her claim to the throne, Jon, is suddenly revealed. Daenerys then loses her dragon Rhaegal and her close friend and adviser Missandei to a sneak attack at Dragonstone–again, something that seems like a guy who can become a bird and see things anywhere in the world could have helped her avoid.

No Caption Provided

That puts Daenerys at King’s Landing in a fraught state. Her enemies have killed her best people, her advisers are turning on her, her dragons are dead, she hasn’t won any loyalty despite helping beat the army of the dead, and the man she loves could challenge her pursuit of the goal she spent her life chasing. She’s primed to do something terrible, and Bran could have stopped any or all of those circumstances from coming to pass with his superpowers. But he doesn’t.

Playing The Long Game

Really, the events of Season 8 make a lot more sense if you assume Bran is manipulating people on purpose, Littlefinger-style. He tells Jon that he’s actually Aegon Targaryen knowing that at the very least, it’ll create distrust between him and Daenerys. He lets lots of people die fighting the army of the dead because he wants them gone, but sets up Arya to kill the Night King (he gave her that Valryian steel dagger, don’t forget) to eliminate one of his chief adversaries. He allows Dany to lose her armies and her dragons to weaken her. He doesn’t provide any of his family members with information about King’s Landing or their enemies that could help them take the city with less bloodshed. Everything he does or doesn’t do sets up the opportunity for Cersei, Dany, and Jon to eliminate each other, and nothing he does or doesn’t do saves lives or de-escalates that conflict.

There’s even a fan theory to go with this idea, but it’s based more on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels than what’s in the show. It concerns the true identity of the Three-Eyed Raven: a Targaryen bastard called Brynden Rivers, also known as the Bloodraven. With his greensight and warg powers, the theory goes, the Bloodraven could have lured Bran north of the Wall and then taken over his body, executing a lengthy plan to take the Iron Throne for himself.

Fans have also speculated that Bran could become the Night King through some combination of time travel and magic ever since Season 6. The touch of the Night King has been enough to turn babies into White Walkers and dragons into wights, and the Night King pointedly touched Bran during a vision in Season 6 (“His mark is on me,” Bran reminded us in Season 8). Maybe that touch had more of an effect on Bran than we all realized.

If Bran is evil, then his arc in Season 8 is a masterstroke of manipulation and careful inaction–everything Bran doesn’t do matters as much as everything he does do. There’s a reason he doesn’t use his powers to help people in Season 8: He doesn’t want to help them. And by doing very little, acting disinterested, and downplaying his magic abilities, Bran sets himself up to seem like an excellent choice for king. He gets the throne with no opposition because everyone else thinks it was their idea to crown him. Littlefinger couldn’t have executed a better deception.

John Wick 4 Release Date Announced While Chapter 3 Is Still In Theatres

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is still in theatres, but we’re already learning about the sequel. It was confirmed today that John Wick 4 will open in theatres on May 21, 2021.

This was announced by way of a text message sent to fans and media (including here at GameSpot). It says: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming – May 21, 2021.”

The ending to John Wick Chapter 3 certainly set up more stories to be told in the John Wick universe, so the announcement today is no surprise. Part of what drives the success of the series is star Keanu Reeves and stunt-coordinator-turned-director Chad Stahelski, so hopefully the pair return for the 2021 sequel.

John Wick Chapter 3 opened to around $57 million in North America to dethrone Avengers: Endgame and become the No. 1 movie.

In addition to John Wick Chapter 4, it was announced in 2017 that a spin-off film centered on a young female assassin was being developed. There is also a TV show; Starz is developing The Continental, a series set in the Los Angeles location of the franchise’s infamous assassin hotel.

Game Of Thrones Finale The Iron Throne Set A New Ratings Record For The Show

Surprising no one, the Game of Thrones finale was a ratings smash. The episode, “The Iron Throne,” attracted 19.3 million viewers across all platforms right away, HBO announced. This includes 13.6 million people who watched the linear TV broadcast on HBO, and the rest coming from replays and streaming.

The previous record for a linear broadcast episode on HBO was 13.4 million from Season 4 premiere of The Sopranos back in 2002. “The Iron Throne” is the most-watched episode of the final Game of Thrones season, surpassing “The Bells,” which had 18.4 million viewers.

Overall, Game of Thrones Season 8 averaged 44.2 million viewers per episode after a week of viewing, which is up by more than 10 million over the average of Season 7.

HBO also announced that the show that follows Game of Thrones on HBO, Barry, reached 2.7 million viewers for its own season finale to reach an all-time series high. It is up 253 percent from the previous season’s finale which attracted 774,000 viewers.

“The Iron Throne” was written and directed by Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. The pair are finished with Game of Thrones, but the series will continue through prequels, one of which stars Naomi Watts and begins filming this year. On May 26, HBO will air a two-hour Game of Thrones Season 8 documentary that promises to dive deep into the story behind how the final season came to be.

Weiss and Benioff are now working on a new Star Wars trilogy with Lucasfilm, the first instalment of which will premiere in 2022. They are also shopping around for a new “overall” deal with multiple different studios, according to a report.

For more on Episode 6, check out the show’s latest coffee cup-style gaffe (this time featuring a pair of water bottles) and a reminder of who was at the council meeting (there were some faces present who we hadn’t seen in years). For our thoughts on the final episode, check out our “The Iron Throne” review.

Stunning New Westworld Season 3 Trailer Introduces Aaron Paul’s Character And Lots More

With Game of Thrones coming to an end, HBO wants to remind people that it has more shows in the pipeline. One of those is Westworld, which returns for a third season in 2020.

The network has released the first trailer for it, and it’s incredible. The trailer shows off Aaron Paul’s character and so much more. There is seriously a lot to unpack. And as always with Westworld, this trailer seems to pose more questions than it answers. Check it out:

The first Season 3 trailer premiered just ahead of the start of the Game of Thrones finale. We’ll have lots more on Game of Thrones (and Westworld) coming up soon on GameSpot, so check back with us for more.